Armed with a handful of simple tips, you can save money on groceries each week to help you stick to your food budget—and still feed your family nutritious and delicious foods.
Save Money on Groceries
I’ve definitely gotten more deliberate about our food budget since having kids—oh, those years when we went out to eat every week! But while it might sound super nerdy, I actually love the challenge of setting a food budget and trying to stick to it. I’ve found that there are simple ways to keep my food budget in check throughout the year that are easy to implement without feeling like you’re scrimping too much.
TIP: You can pick and choose the tips that work best for your family, or start with one or two to get into the hang of looking at your food shopping in a slightly different way.
Best Tips to Save Money on Groceries
I shop at our normal small town grocery stores and live almost an hour from places like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods, and Target. But no matter where you shop, these money saving tips can work!
- Consider lower cost snacks like fruit and cheese sticks, not just packaged crackers and snack bars.
- When buying snack foods, buy large packages rather than single-servings. You can portion them out yourself at home into snack cups or a reusable pouch.
- Eat beans, legumes, eggs, and dairy as regular protein sources since they cost less than meat.
- Make meat more of an accent, rather than the main part of a meal. This will help to stretch the meat you do buy.
- Skip prepared foods most of the time since they always cost more than the ingredients you’d need to make it yourself. Try quick dinners instead.
- Choose which fresh produce to buy based on what’s on sale.
- Consider lunch options besides just sandwiches since buying sandwich meat each week can add up. Or try hummus some days as a budget-friendly sandwich option.
- Buy store brands if they cost less than name brands. (The product on the inside of the packaging is often the same!)
- Prep veggies to make sure you eat what you actually buy.
- Go to the store with a list and try to stick to it. (You can also order online and pick your groceries up as another easy way to stick to your list.)
- Avoid extra trips to the store during the week.
- Have “fridge forage” nights when everyone can choose what they want from leftovers in the fridge.
- Stock up on meat and chicken when it’s on sale and store it in the freezer.
- Compare prices on chicken thighs, tenders, and breasts—thighs are often dollars less expensive than white meat.
- Keep meal plans flexible so you can adjust and use up what you need to as your week progresses.
- Put leftovers into the freezer in meal-size portions for future easy lunches and dinners.
- Take stock of your pantry and freezer before going to the store to make sure you don’t buy what you already have.
- Know which stores near you have the best prices and shop there!
- Stock up on pantry staples when at a store with better prices or when you find a sale.
- Use a coupon app and store coupons/cards/apps.
- Make easy pantry meals with grains and rice a regular fixture on your table.
- Use frozen, canned, and fresh produce according to what’s on sale, in season, and at the best prices.
- Consider making one easy homemade snack a week to keep the amount you spend on packaged ones a little lower.
- Buy regular versions of “kid foods” (such as buying a quart of plain yogurt instead of tubes) and flavor and portion them out yourself.
- Stock up at the farmer’s market when produce is in season and less expensive. (We stock our freezer with kale during the summer and use it for smoothies all winter.)
- Buy in bulk from a local farmer for meat if you can (you might even get a discount!) and freeze it for future use.
- Freeze leftover produce from the kids for smoothies.
- Serve small portions to kids limit food waste and potentially increase the amount of leftovers. (Allow seconds as needed per their hunger!)
Food Budgeting Tip
I think that it’s worth noting that it’s okay to spend money on good food for your family. Experts are always saying that you get to vote with your pocketbook, so if you value sustainable agriculture and organics, it’s 100% okay to spend more money on them. Consider where all of your money goes each month and see if there are optional expenditures that you can cut out. It’s often easy to lose track of where our money is actually going.
How much should I spend on groceries?
Remember that the cost of groceries varies GREATLY depending on where you live. The average family of four with two young kids can range from $567-1106 a month, according to this super fascinating chart from the USDA. Those numbers will obviously vary, but it’s such good info to have for perspective. You do what’s best for your family, no guilt.